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CDC Shortens Coronavirus Quarantine Time

Medical technicians work at a drive-through coronavirus testing facility at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’s Westchester campus in Tarrytown, N.Y., September 17, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines Wednesday for how long someone who was exposed to the coronavirus should quarantine to ensure they have not contracted it, reducing the previous two-week quarantine time to ten days and seven days in some cases.

While a 14-day quarantine is still “the best way to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19,” the  CDC said it is approving “two acceptable alternatives,” according to the revised guidelines issued Wednesday.

If a person has developed no symptoms of the virus, their quarantine after being exposed to the pathogen can end after ten days. If the asymptomatic person also tests negative for the coronavirus, quarantine can end even sooner at seven days.

The reduced quarantine time is based on new research and is intended to lessen the economic burden that quarantining for two weeks causes, said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for the coronavirus response.

“We continue to refine our guidance to prevent transmission and protect Americans,” Walke said. “Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to follow critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time.”

Walk also asked Americans to consider postponing travel over the holidays as many areas around the country cope with rising case numbers and strained health systems.

“If you do decide to travel, the CDC recommends that travelers consider getting tested one to three days before travel, and again three to five days after travel,” Walke said. “This should be done in combination with reducing non-essential activities for seven days after travel.”

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